In an interview with the Huffington Post, White House adviser David Axelrod suggested that the Obama administration is willing to cave on extending the Bush tax cuts for all Americans, not just ones the White House considers “middle class.”
“That appears to be the only way, said David Axelrod, that middle-class taxpayers can keep their tax cuts, given the legislative and political realities facing Obama in the aftermath of last week’s electoral defeat.
“‘We have to deal with the world as we find it,’ Axelrod said during an unusually candid and reflective 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. ‘The world of what it takes to get this done.’
“‘There are concerns,’ he added, that Congress will continue to kick the can down the road in the future by passing temporary extensions for the wealthy time and time again. ‘But I don’t want to trade away security for the middle class in order to make that point.'”
The new White House stance on taxes seems to indicate at least a glimmer of political realism on the part of the Obama administration in the wake of the 2010 midterm elections, in which the Republicans took control of the House and made gains in the Senate. The Obama administration can ill afford to be blamed for a tax increase on the first of the year, which will happen if Congress does not extend the Bush tax cuts on top of the political tsunami that hit the White House earlier this month.
Furthermore, Axelrod remained silent about the draft report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that called for cuts in both entitlement and discretionary spending as well as tax simplification. The White House will wait for the final report before commenting. This contrasts greatly with the vociferous objections expressed by soon-to-be-ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Axelrod did indicate that the White House will veto any attempt to repeal the health care reform measure. Juxtapositioned with the new realism on taxes, the White House stance on the unpopular health care reform bill is, to say the least, puzzling. It is true that health care reform is the signature piece of legislation passed during the first two years of the Obama term in office, but virtually every poll suggests that it remains highly unpopular with the American people. Increasing costs and hidden provisions of the bill have not served to make health care reform more popular than it was the day it passed, when a huge crowd of Tea Party protesters shouted its objections outside the Capitol building.
Does this stance indicate an area of trench warfare for the next two years as the Republicans struggle to delay and defund health care reform while President Obama pushes back? Or will realism set in on this issue as well and an accommodation be reached? Time only will tell.
Source: White House Gives In On Bush Tax Cuts, Howard Fineman and Sam Stein, the Huffington Post, November 11th, 2010